So we’re all back in to routine now after the summer! How many of us set out with the best of intentions for a brand new start? New routines about homework and screen time in September seem to be the equivalent of January gym memberships- often abandoned pretty quickly! Maybe real life just catches up on us and it all seems too difficult and time consuming ,so we resort to our comfort zone of doing it like we always did. Throw in a bit of self- condemnation for not making it work and we have a recipe for nothing changing! Is there anything we can do?
It’s worth thinking about whether what you were setting out to do was ever really achievable. One of the major pitfalls we all encounter is trying to do too many things at once and too quickly. That star chart with 10 different behaviours to tackle is soon going to feel overwhelming and everyone will become frustrated with it quite quickly. How about tackling one or two changes and breaking those down into small steps that can be rewarded? Don’t underestimate the power of simply praising a new behaviour every time you see it either. Our children want to please us (yes,really!) and consistent praise will keep a new behaviour on track long after a star chart has been forgotten.
Changing behaviour isn’t easy! As Philippa Perry comments in her book, “How to Stay Sane” (also not easy!) “…sometimes a new behaviour feels false and unreal, but it is merely unfamiliar.” Praising our children and ourselves for attempting change is both kind and more likely to result in success. Noticing their efforts will increase their attempts to get it right. Remember too that if it’s all going a bit pear-shaped, it may be worth pulling back a bit and concentrating more on improving your relationship with your child. A daily dose of play can do wonders to increase co-operation and motivation. Some self compassion won’t go amiss either! Showing our children that we keep on trying even when things are difficult will help them learn both resilience and courage.